• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

There have been critics led by Dr Johnson who have wished away the first act of the play Othello. What is the importance of the first act?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

There have been critics led by Dr Johnson who have wished away the first act of the play Othello. What is the importance of the first act? As in the majority of plays, the opening act is once which sets the mood, atmosphere and general location for the rest of the play. Some might say it is the more important of acts as it is the deciding factor of whether the audience will be interested in watching the play or not. The opening scene to Othello starts off in the midst of an argument between Iago and Roderigo. As it is in the middle of the argument the audience is unsure of what they are arguing about, this intrigues us and makes us want to find out. This method of the audience not knowing what has happened before the pay has started is called exposition. The play starts during an argument, so the atmosphere would be heated and tense, therefore making the audience excited and keen to know more. In Elizabethan times it would have been popular for a play to start very dramatically as this would have been the only signal to tell the audience that it had begun, therefore catching their attention. ...read more.

Middle

This all changes in scene two and I would say Othello is introduced as the 'good guy', the audience warms to him as he talks of his affections for Desdemona. Othello's power is shown in his words- 'Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them'-he stays calm and lets Brabantio have his say, indicating to the audience a bit about his character, that he holds power but is patient enough not to enforce his views upon Brabantio without letting him speak first. However, by the end of the play the audience see that Othello's character isn't really like this, as he isn't patient enough to let Desdemona have her say about her supposed infidelity, and it quick to jump to conclusions about her. Some critics would say this is because of his 'fatal flaw', jealousy. A.C.Bradley held the view that in all Shakespearian tragedy the main character would always uncover a fatal flaw which would be the reason for his downfall. ' Shakespeare has shown us that his hero is not as strong or as good a man as he thinks he is, that the hero's flaw is his refusal to face the reality of his own nature'-Leo Kirschenbaum 'The Modern Othello'1961. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think Othello's story of how he courted Desdemona in Scene 3 is very important for the emotional development of the play, not so much the plot. Once the audience has heard his story, we can begin to understand his relationship with Desdemona more clearly. This is also the first time we are introduced to Desdemona, and she shows the usual characteristics of a woman in Elizabethan times, obeying the male figures, and typically, talks about how she must now obey Othello more than her father as he is her husband. The audience interpret her as playing a characteristic female role of that time, as she only speaks when she is asked to, and even then does not speak as much as the male characters. This signifies the attitudes and values towards women in Elizabethan times. In my opinion, Act 1 is crucial to the development and interaction the audience sees happening between the characters, and if this act were not to be in the play it would be harder for us to get to know the characters and to try to figure out what is going to happen in the story. The audience like to think that they know what is going to happen in a play, so through Act 1 they can guess which characters are going to be the villains and heroes, thus trying to figure out what is going to happen next. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Othello essays

  1. In William Shakespeares Othello, we witness the tragedy of a man tormented by the ...

    this was but his dream" (3.3.424), Othello rages on with "I'll tear her all to pieces!" (3.3.428). In this scene he moves from demanding proof to swearing he will have vengeance. He now calls upon hell, proclaiming, Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!

  2. Free essay

    Othello. Emilias monologue in act IV scene iii lines 82-99 articulate her views ...

    Another way in which Emilia does this is with the use of the infinitive tense, with the use of the conditional tense conjunction "if" which takes away the severity of the context, as it is supposing a hypothetical form. Similarly the use of vocative within the monologue is interesting, Emilia

  1. With close reference to the representation of female characters in the first three chapters ...

    reveals Fransico's misogynistic attitude, he reveals that 'she [Vittoria] is wearing cloth of tissue' indicating she is poorly dressed, and her husband is unable to support her. In his direct speech, he uses the possesive verb 'strumpet' to tarnish her repution, indicating that she is a tart.

  2. Iago is a powerful predator who exploits those around him by infecting their perceptions ...

    -> The first thing that can be examined is his relationship with Roderigo. He is consoling him because Roderigo wants to drown himself. Iago subtly tells him that it is pointless and uses another reference to animals and tells him to go drown cats and blind puppies.

  1. Explore the role of hatred and/or grief in any work (or works) of literature ...

    and in Henchard's case these are supplemented by his character flaws; as confirmed by Hardy's reference to Novalis: 'Character is Fate.'

  2. Show how Shakespeare sets out the contrasting characters of Othello and Iago in Act ...

    Also one can't forget the obvious difference in race - Iago is white while Othello is black - this is another contrast. Othello's speeches always seem prepared and rehearsed, in particular his life story in Act 1 Scene 3, in contrast with Iago's soliloquy in the same scene, which gives the sense of a mind working things out ('How?

  1. Analyse an extract of not less than 500 words from a text of your ...

    For example, it takes only the slightest prompting on Iago's part to put Othello into the proper frame of mind to be consumed by jealousy. Iago's interpretation of Cassio's exit, combined with Desdemona's vigorous advocating on Cassio's behalf, creates suspicion in Othello's mind even before Iago prompts Othello.

  2. Othello: Noble Moor or Dangerous Savage?

    It is arguable that of all the characters, Desdemona, his wife, should know Othello's true temperament and feelings since these must be considered her reasons for becoming his bride. There are characters in the play that speak to belittle Othello, but it must be considered that each of these has a reason for prejudice towards him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work